27 October 2016


I enjoy playing the Greco gambit in blitz,* but sometimes my opponents throw me a curve. An online blitz game this morning after watching most of the first hour of the Carlsen -- Nakamura blitz and bullet battle revealed gross errors by both players. The miserable failure to calculate simple variations suggests that neither player deserves their approximate 1900 online blitz ratings.

Stripes (1919) -- Internet Opponent (1882) [C53]
Live Chess Chess.com, 27.10.2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Qe7

This move was quite popular for centuries, but I don't see it much these days.

4...Nf6 is the almost universal choice.

5.0–0 Nf6

5...d6 is the main line and certainly prevents what transpired after serious errors by both players.


6.d4 seems sensible.

Black to move


6...Ng4 complicates matters 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 Qh4 10.Be3 Qxh2+ 11.Kf1 and White seems slightly better with a significant lead in development balancing the exposed king.


7.h3 d6

Black equalizes with 7...Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 Qc5+ 9.d4 Qxc4=.

8.d4 Bb6 9.Na3 Kh8 and White won in 39 moves in Castaldi,V (2400) -- Blau,M (2456), Venice 1951.

7...Bb6 8.d5

8.h3 may be best.


8...Ng4 9.dxc6 Nxf2 10.Qe2 Ng4+ 11.Kh1 Nf2+=


Black to move


Black throws away the game by allowing complete immobilization of the queenside.

9...d6 keeps the game balanced.

10.d6 Qd8 11.Nxe5 Bxf2+ 12.Kh1

12.Kxf2 was correct, but I did not take time to calculate the apparently forcing line that I feared. 12...Nxe4+ 13.Rxe4 Qxg5 Black's queen alone cannot battle most of White's army.


Down a whole rook, I was comfortable with my more active pieces. Indeed, Stockfish says that I am better. No surprise given Black's inability to move any queenside pieces to useful squares. It will require many pawn moves before the bishop and rook come into play.

White to move


It is one thing to favor positional over material considerations, and quite another to throw away pieces recklessly.

13.Qxe1 with clear compensation for the exchange was the appropriate move.


13...Qb6 14.Bxf7+ Kh8 and now what? White is losing.

14...Rxf7?? 15.Qxf7+ Kh8 16.Qf8+ Ng8 17.Nf7#.


Again, White has a clear edge.




15.Qxf7+ Kh8 16.Ng6+ Kh7 17.Nf8+ Kh8 18.Bxh6 Ne8 19.Ng6+ Kh7 20.Ne7 and Black's king has no defenders.

15...Qf8 16.Nxh6+ Kh7

White to move


17.Qc2! Ng4 (17...gxh6 18.e5+) 18.Nf5 g6 19.Be7 seems better for White.

17...Nxe4 18.g4 Nxg5 19.Na3 Bh4 20.Rf1

Worsens White's position, but White is lost in any case.

20...g6 21.Qc2

Black to move


21...Kh8 and Black will win.

22.Rxf5 Qg7

22...Kg7 23.Rxf8 Kxf8 also wins for White.

23.Rxg5+ Kh8 24.Rxg7 Kxg7

White to move

According to point count chess, Black has a slight material advantage. Alas, only one Black piece in on the field and is no match for the knight and queen.

25.Nc4 b5

25...Bf6 26.Qf5 b5 27.g5 and there should be a checkmate soon.

26.Ne5 Na6 27.Qf5

27.Qg6+ Kh8 28.Nf7#.

27...Bb7 28.Qf7+ Kh8 29.Ng6# 1–0

If I need a reason to give up blitz, the errors in this game should be sufficient. Alas, blitz is not only a drug, but usefully entertaining so long as one does not insist on standards for good chess. Even Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen displayed several magnificent blunders in today's games, although their errors were nothing like those in this game. It is worth noting that both super-GMs often took fifteen to thirty seconds to calculate during their blitz fest. The longest time spent by either player in this blunder-filled game was eleven seconds. One of the gross blunders was played after nine seconds.

*See "Materialism" for another example.

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